Friday, February 17, 2006

Time For A Few Jars Down At The Old Snuff And Whippet.

150 years since the death of Heine.

The lamp-posts in the new village round here all seem to have a few crows on them this morning; enough to make me keep half an eye out for a fat man with a cigar. This feeling is not helped by the slightly unsettling light of this time of year.

We started watching To Serve Them All My Days in order last night which is why the death of Heine is up there as he was mentioned in the second episode. I have to say that I seem to have forgotten most of the atmosphere of the original though it is in no way disappointing. Andrew Davies’ involvement is obvious with a definite similarity to his adaptation of Pride and Prejudice though I think Jane Austen actually wrote the jokes in that from what my wife said. Must read it I suppose. Too many books! I need to define reading time rather than just getting the odd moment before sleep.

PJ’s service in the trenches has made me realise that I no longer know anyone who remembers the First World War. One of my aunts was born in 1912 and could just about remember the tail end of hostilities. I never actually asked her about that because she was an officer in charge of the radar operators on the south coast during what Giles would always refer to as ‘The Last Lot’. Of course that was much more interesting to talk about. With her being a maths teacher in real life she was the only person in the family able to talk about Horizon programmes. I should have asked her more before she died. Both of my Grandfathers were in the army, one as an officer (for a short time before he ‘relinquished the commission’ (See here for more). His brother joined up and was killed in France and a relative of his (and therefore mine of course) was Albert Farrar Gatliff who as a general was a pallbearer for the Unknown Soldier. My other grandfather had a more lowly rank – I need to ask my Dad about that. My father’s father was born in 1900 so he must have joined up towards the end of the war.

My wife made comment about the descent of my family down the social scale calling herself ‘A docker’s daughter’. I got angry at this hopefully in an endearing, old-style socialist sort of a way. Her father lied about his age during WWII in order to join The Marines and was discovered (according to family legend) and sent home from The Hood before it was sunk by the Bismarck. (A submariner who was on the same ward as me when I was in hospital said that so many men were sent home from the Hood that it was wonder that it had any crew left.) When he eventually managed to join up properly, he finally got posted out east on The Duke of York just in time to be in the honour guard for Admiral Bruce Fraser arriving in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese Surrender. This is not legend as we have photos. He was probably disappointed at not seeing action and it certainly makes him an equal if not a better to anyone in my family.

All this has been done at a rush. It needs to be structured better.

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